Getting into the Scotland back row for this year’s World Cup may take some doing but at least Matt Fagerson has one easy task at the moment.
“Being an uncle is the best job,” said the Glasgow Warriors flanker in reference to the recent birth of his baby niece.
Big brother Zander and his wife Yasmine celebrated the arrival of little Iona last month and, aged 20, Matt has already learned the rich benefits of unclehood.
“You don’t deal with any of the negatives, you get cuddles, and when they start crying you hand them back,” he said with a smile.
The younger Fagerson was speaking yesterday at Scotland’s World Cup training camp at Heriot-Watt University, where he is joined by 23-year-old brother and tighthead prop Zander.
The Perthshire siblings are part of a wider band of brothers at Glasgow and in the Scotland set-up, but Matt admits he is lucky to have such a close point of contact ahead of what is set to be a full-on summer of preparations ahead of Japan.
“He [Zander] has been there a lot for me and obviously he’s been through quite a lot as well,” said Matt.
“Having had a kid he’s taken a different perspective I think, in his playing career and his life in general. Chatting to him is really good and Jonny Gray has been great as well, he’s very open and honest. There’s quite a few guys around who are good to talk to.”
Fagerson may be the baby of the extended training squad hoping to make that last 31 that boards the flight to Japan in September but he comes in flying after an excellent end to the season.
A man-of-the-match performance in the Guinness Pro14 semi-final against Ulster was followed by a try in the 18-15 loss to Leinster in the final at Celtic Park but Fagerson is under no illusion about how strong the competition is in his position, although his ability to operate at both blindside and No 8 is a versatile, though not unique, bonus.
“The talent and the depth in the back row is pretty tough,” he said.
“Barcs [John Barclay] has just come back from his injury and played a few games at the end of the season, same with [Scarlets flanker] Blade [Thomson], and then you have guys like [Ryan] Wilson and Jamie [Ritchie] and Maggie [Magnus Bradbury] and Gary Graham. It’s a pretty competitive back row so I’m just trying to train as well as I can and put my best foot forward.”